Many teenagers as well as older people undergo orthodontic treatments to straighten their teeth. Orthodontic braces may be applied to correct the patient's bite to improve the function of the teeth and make them easier to clean. Braces are also used to straighten teeth for cosmetic purposes only. The cost of orthodontics varies according to several factors, including the severity of the misalignment, type of orthodontic appliances chosen by the patient, and the patient's specific dental insurance plan.
Braces function by slowly moving the teeth into proper alignment within the mouth. Because this is a gradual process, patients who have very crooked teeth will generally need to undergo orthodontic treatments for a longer period of time. This will require additional visits to the orthodontic clinic for checkups and tightening of the wires between the brackets, leading to a higher cost of orthodontics for such patients. Cases involving misalignment of the jaw as well as the teeth may become very expensive due to the additional work required.
The materials used to straighten the teeth can also affect the cost of orthodontics. Traditional braces with metal brackets and wires are generally the most inexpensive method of treatment. They are also the most visible, which may be of particular concern to adult patients. If they find the plain braces unappealing, patients can generally choose different colors for metal brackets. Some braces are available with ceramic or clear brackets or even brackets placed on the back of the teeth so as not to show at all, but these options typically cost more.
Typically, the cost of orthodontics is highest if the patient chooses the Invisalign® method. This orthodontic treatment uses clear trays that fit over the teeth to move them into alignment gradually. Patients who choose this option will need multiple custom-made trays over the duration of their treatment, which adds significantly to the final cost.
Paying for orthodontics may be easier if the patient has orthodontic insurance. Some dental plans cover a percentage of orthodontic treatments, others only offer benefits up to a certain age, and still others have no orthodontic coverage at all. Insurance coverage can affect the cost of orthodontics. Most policies, however, do not cover a significant portion of orthodontic treatment expenses.
Many orthodontists offer free consultations for patients who are thinking of getting braces. During this visit, a treatment plan is outlined based on the patient's individual needs. Based on the treatment plan, the orthodontist can give an accurate cost estimate that takes all factors into consideration.